Thursday, August 30, 2012

Breaking the Log Jam of Quilt Tops

I have a "Log Jam" of quilt tops awaiting FMQ!

I made progress on the little witch girl quilt and have all borders added.  I have no pix but will show some after I back and quilt it.  I realize that I now have three quilt tops ready for my expected granddaughter and all of them are in the phase of needing to be backed and quilted.  There is a bottle neck in that phase of my quilt making process.

Number one quilt is Duck, Duck, Goose.

Number two is the brown bordered pink Moda charm pack one, which I have just decided to name Strawberry and Chocolate.

Number three is the quilt with the little witch girl which has a working name of Autumn Baby Quilt.

I am looking forward to this Labor Day weekend to break the log jam of quilt tops and work on them with my FMQ.  I will start with Strawberry and Chocolate with its simple squares. Next will be Duck, Duck, Goose with its strip design. Finally, when, if I am not yet good, at least I will be better, I will start Autumn Baby Quilt.

I tend to feel a bit guilty about having so many projects going at once.  But then, about halfway through this month, I saw a list from another quilter.  I captured it here because it was so striking. Not only was I amazed by her precise capture of the phases of creating and completing a quilt but also by the sheer quantity she has going at the same time.  I would like to start a similar chart for myself.  I can tell you right now that most of my check marks will be in the backing and quilting columns.  I am going to add some columns on the far right that address ideas for and dreams of quilts to be. Notice she even has a final column for the tag or label.

I apologize in advance that I do not remember the name of this quilter.  I thought I remembered seeing her beautiful work as a whole collection of oriental flavor brown-toned quilts in a Smilebox Slideshow from The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson & Ricky Tims, a website where I am a member.  I searched in vain to find the picture collection again and report her name but to no avail.  Maybe I saw it elsewhere.  If any of you WIP folks out there know her identity from this collection of clues I have supplied, please help me give credit where it is due.

Completed projects:  
  1. Knitted one poppy and orchid baby sock
  2. Gave one quilt a name "Strawberry and Chocolate" 
Ongoing projects:  
  1. Finished adding borders on Autumn Baby Quilt (also called little witch girl)
  2. Strawberry and Chocolate-  FMQ this weekend 
  3. Duck, Duck, Goose - start FMQ this weekend?
  4. Doll quilt - attach binding and call it good
This week's stats:
     Completed  projects - 1/2 pair of socks
     New projects - none- how about that! 
     Currently in progress - 4
     Those in closet - many enumerated in earlier posts and not repeated here

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Desire for Success

In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.     – Bill Cosby

Entering work one day this week I saw this inspirational note written on the whiteboard. This hit home with me in my attitude toward my free motion quilting. I really want to succeed at this FMQ thing and am determined to try it on the quilts for the new baby.  It will not be perfect but I am going to get over it!  Even if it is my first grandchild, I need to let go of this "it has to be perfect" syndrome I have. She will not notice uneven stitch size and by the time she is old enough to discern the quilting quality I should be better at it.  I will, however, be sure to use a thread that does NOT contrast with the quilt.

To decrease my "fear of failure" and increasing my chances of succeeding, I took another class this past Saturday at my local quilt shop In Between Stitches in Livermore, CA.  The teacher was Jill Schumacher, "Quiltmaker to the Queen" and she teaches heirloom free motion quilting.  I lot of the info was the same as what I learned last month in OK from Mary Ann.  Both teachers said not to sweat even stitch size so I guess I really should let go of that hang up of mine.  "Fear of failure" has been replaced by "tolerance of imperfections".

I did spend a lot of time prepping for the class.  Jill marks the majority of her quilt tops and I had to prep and mark six 14" squares of top, batting and backing sandwiches, two with horizontal lines, one with a square grid of horizontal and vertical lines and one with a grid of diagonal lines.  This was to practice sewing straight in multiple directions without the feed dogs engaged and without turning the quilt.  We used our best penmanship to write our name and anything else we wanted within the lines, just like in grade school when you were learning cursive. We then stitched over the lines and learned cute, creative ways to dot i's and cross t's.  We traced a feathered wreath, a fleur-de-lis design, and another circular pattern and practiced the continuous stitching to produce them, noting where best to back track and stop to minimize glitches in our flow of motion. Here is the back side of a sample of  my attempts.  The front still has the markings on it.

I had to also make an Ohio Star block. We also used clear thread to do practice stitch in the ditch on this pattern. Here it is.

Jill also addressed lazy L loops and simple loops like Mary Ann did and I got a bit more practice in those.  I will probably aim for a style in between the relaxed Mary Ann approach and the more rigid precise Jill approach so I am very glad I took both classes. They each had a lot to offer and both teachers were so encouraging.

In terms of other progress on my baby quilts.  I finished all six of the pieced blocks on the little witch quilt, bordered the six image blocks in a soft green, a soft orange, and a soft lilac.  The lilac ones I'd first bordered in a color that matched the purple of the pieced blocks but that was too jarring in the overall quilt so I removed the borders and replaced them each with the softer lilac.  Although my first grandchild will be an October baby I really wanted the quilt to say "halloween BABY" and not "HALLOWEEN baby" so no bright oranges, no loud greens, and very limited strong purples.

I am still using the same purple I removed for the thin strip separating my sashing type border from the pieced blocks but that is the only place I am using it... just as an accent in the "bevel" of my frame.

Here is the border fabric I picked from my stash.  The scribbles are remind me of kinder, gentler, spider webs like around the image blocks and I think it is serendipitous that it has yellow, lilac, and pale orange in it. Even the yellow is on the pale, subdued side.  I want this baby to sleep and not lie awake!

I continued to knit baby socks this week, too.

Completed projects:  
  1. Knitted second yellow and blue baby sock
  2. Knitted pair of grey and grey turquoise socks
  3. Overcome fear of FMQ 
Ongoing projects:  
  1. Pink squares baby quilt-  back, FMQ myself (eek!), and bind 
  2. Little witch girl quilt to be- ready to be bordered
  3. Duck, Duck, Goose - completed binding-  will FMQ (again, eek!) by self
  4. Doll quilt - attach binding and call it good
This week's stats:
     Completed  projects - 3
     New projects - 2- 2nd yellow baby sock  and pari grey ones new and completed 
     Currently in progress - 4
     Those in closet - many enumerated in earlier posts and not repeated here

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Friday's Child

Friday's child is loving and giving, or so goes the nursery rhyme/poem. Well after many Fridays not off from work because I was either traveling or working in trade for a day off to travel, I finally spent last Friday- all day-  in my sewing room, loving every minute of it and giving it the old college try on progressing on projects. I worked on the pink quilt  of my last blog entry where I agonized on the tiny strip insert before the border. Here it is and I am glad of my selection.

I cut the longer, outer side borders twice.  I will know in the future that when using a striped border it is less obtrusive if you add the borders that run the way of the stripe after the other borders, regardless of which is shorter.  Then the seams parallel the stripe and are less noticeable.

I did not do this on the inner beige striped strip but that is narrow enough I think it does not matter.  It made a big difference on the outer border so I reordered the sequence.Now it is ready to be backed (with the border fabric and FMQ'd (gulp!).

Friday I also made  great progress on the patchwork blocks on the little witch girl quilt. Saturday I finished piecing the patchwork blocks and decided how I will treat the rectangular ( rather than square), smaller sized feature picture blocks of the witch and kitties. Since my daughter's baby is due in October I wanted a hint of Halloween but not and overdose of it.  That is try I am trying to play up the softer colors.

My patchwork blocks will finish 12 " square. I will border each of the picture blocks in a fabric that picks up the green, purple, and orange or yellow of the patchwork blocks. The image portion of the blocks are 10.25" wide x 9.75" high so the "frames" will need be about 1" wide or less. I will sacrifice the built-in orange preprinted border so as to incorporate it in the seam allowance and have more of my custom selected contrast border showing. I figure I will align my border along the printed picture edge, then square off the bordered blocks later to accommodate for the not perfectly square printing of the pictures. Here are some fabric considerations for the binding. The purple and green are a bit darker than the colors in the quilt but I generally prefer a matching or darker, binding to a paler one. The purple is a pretty interesting pattern but because it is so intense I would not go with a wide binding. I am also considering an outer sashing of a pale yellow before the binding.

Here is the quilt I used for inspiration so you can see the patchwork block.  The  quilt came from the book Two-Block Theme Quilts by Claudia Olson   I love this book and already made another quilt from it.  See my elephant and lion patchwork quilt for my  grandniece here.

I also finished completely the lilac, pink and mint baby cardigan and cap. I was not fond of the pink buttons I'd bought, too coral in nature and not pink enough, and there was no mint green buttons to be found.  I found a U-tube video on how to crochet button covers with no hole in the center and I adapted it to cover small plastic rings instead of a big flat button.  I like the results and will use this idea again.

I finished knitting a pair of baby socks, blue and grey, and today started another pair, yellow and blue.  I am thoroughly enjoying working with the Babyboo yarn from Knit One, Crochet Too. Is is a very soft, silky feeling bamboo, with a bit of nylon in it.  However, when knitting tiny baby socks, it seems to take as least half as long to kitchener stitch the toes and weave in the loose strings from all the color changes, as it does to knit the sock. No photos of these yet.

Completed projects:  
  1. Crocheted baby cardigan and cap set
  2. Knitted pair of blue and grey baby socks
  3. Knitted one yellow and blue baby sock 
Ongoing projects:  
  1. Pink squares baby quilt-  back, FMQ myself (eek!), and bind 
  2. Little witch girl quilt to be- finish frames on picture blocks 
  3. Duck, Duck, Goose - completed binding-  will FMQ (again, eek!) by self
  4. Doll quilt - attach binding and call it good
This week's stats:
     Completed  projects - 3
     New projects - 1- Yellow baby sock new and completed 
     Currently in progress - 4
     Those in closet - many enumerated in earlier posts and not repeated here

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Pink Play- Yes Indeedy Pumpkin Seedy

Yes Indeedy is a song that my kids loved from their childhood days in which the characters cannot make a decision. See this link. The verses say that "Uncle Fred could make up his bed but not up his mind " and "Uncle Zeke...  would sit for days just wandering in his head".  I too am similarly noncommittal in my quilting.  I waffle back and forth often enough, however, that I have come to the realization that I must enjoy playing this game of "what if" fabric choices.  If it was so distasteful, I would change. Planning and playing is half the fun.

Take, for example, this little pink mini-quilt of thirty 5 inch charms squares that I joined in a 5 x6 array for my first grandchild, a little girl due in October. I bet I spent three to four times the amount of time positioning the squares, as I did sewing them together.  See more about it here. The border fabric, a brown and rose tree limb quasi-stripe, I knew immediately would be perfect.  But then I had this great idea of offsetting the border with a thin strip of "something" to delineate the inner squares. I generally like the look of a mini-inner border.  To use a picture analogy, if the border is the frame, the thin inner border is like the beveled edge of the frame. Now I have spent time playing with the selection of this 1/2" to 3/4" fabric insert.   

I originally thought to use a rose pink like the dark one in the squares, but none of my pinks were quite right. I rejected a signature polka dot print I originally had in mind because it seemed to get lost against the pink squares, falling short of having sufficient contrast.  Then I thought a chocolate brown, but all of mine were too dark or too golden and clashed with the border fabric.  I thought a pea pod green, like the accent wall of the nursery, would add a pop of color to the quilt. The green really did pop, but, when not viewed from within the walls of the nursery, it seemed odd man out.     

Auditioning pink, green, or brown for accent strip.

Love the pea pod green accent wall as backdrop for black crib.  Photo does not do it justice.

I love the look of a stripe, running crosswise to the strip length; I did this on my doll quilt and liked the results.  See doll quilt before quilting here. I went through all of my stripes but, again, the Goldilocks syndrome, each was either too wide, too thin, too light, too dark....  I even considered just plain white but thought that was a cop out.  Then I found this beige subtle stripe.  It has white like the blocks and is a less harsh tie in to the brown in the border fabric.  I think this is it.  What a lot of trouble to go through for just beige! (Oh, what the heck, I had fun playing.)

I think the beige uneven stripe is the winner. Yes, no, maybe so.

That song I talked about in the beginning?  It is written and sung by Joe Wise who was quoted as saying,  "Yes I am the author, though if any kid sings it all across the country in the car on the family vacation I'll deny authorship in any court." Here is the chorus.  I can't get it out of my head.  But then again maybe I have not made the decision if I want to!

                    Yes Indeedy
                     by Joe Wise
     Yes indeedy, pumpkin seedy
     No siree bob, hey diddle corn cob
     Yeah but, no but, wait a minute, could be so
     Maybe baby, chicken and gravy
     Don’t be silly saspirilly
     Hardly yardly, bailing up barley, 
     Pick a little, I don’t know!

Ongoing projects:  
  1. Pink squares baby quilt- add borders, back, FMQ myself (eek!), and bind 
  2. Little witch girl quilt to be.. sneak peak here hidden in June 20th post 
  3. Duck, Duck, Goose - completed binding-  will FMQ (again, eek!) by self
  4. Doll quilt - attach binding and call it good

This week's stats:
     Completed  projects - 0
     New projects - 0
     Currently in progress - 4

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

75% There on Ultimate WIP

My husband and I just returned yesterday from visiting our daughter in Oklahoma who is in week 30 of her Ultimate Work In Progress- producing our first grandchild! We were quite busy there helping prep the nursery. My husband and son -in-law not only assembled the crib but also made the nursery door into a Dutch door so the bottom half can be closed to keep kitties out while the top half can remain open for loving periodic gazing upon said sleeping infant. We shopped and gave input on the decision process for the changing table, rocking chair, and high chair purchases.  Amidst closet cleansing and reorganization we still found time for watching some Olympics and an Olympian effort in quilt and crochet events.

On the plane flight out from California and back I finished crocheting the pink/white/mint/lilac cardigan and cap set. All that remains to do is sew on the buttons and make and attach the pom-pom. My crochet skills are not on the same level as my knit skills, so there are a few places I fudged an increase or decrease to get the required stitch count.  I have a hard time distinguishing what is "into" the single or double crochet. Is it directly above it or is it into the laid over stitch resulting from making the single or double crochet in the row below? I initially figured if I am consistent it should not matter.  But then again, with rows you can wind up with a leaning parallelogram when you wanted a rectangle and with rounds, the beginning of the round can keep spiraling off in one direction. I must have guessed right most of the time because overall I am pretty pleased. Here is the end result - shy buttons and pom-pom - but I will add them tonight or tomorrow.

While there I took a free motion quilting class, my first, from my daughter's quilting friend/teacher Mary Ann. She started her class by each of us writing the word quilting on a white board. She then pointed out how everyone's penmanship was so different. Why should we expect our loops and flowers and wavy lines to look like hers or any one else's? This was such a revelation and strong point. I was really struck by the simplicity but also the truth of the concept. She also said that our brain was learning a new skill - instead of moving a pen on a piece of paper we were essentially moving the paper under the pen so we should be patient and develop the muscle memory. I am not giving away all her class secrets because she had a lot of other gems and I highly recommend you take a class from her. She teaches out of Quilters Corner in OKC. Mary Ann changed my attitude- which is often as important, if not more so, than strengthening a skill. That said, I will present with cautious pride a section of my doodle cloth from the class. My loops need a lot of practice to be even but they are not too jagged and I think my flower was not too bad for a first attempt. (See, Mary Ann instilled confidence!)

I keep waffling back and forth on self-quilting the Duck, Duck, Goose strip quilt, shown here. It is a good simple project for a first effort - strips, not blocks and not huge-  and I feel more confident after Mary Ann's instructions and encouragement. But I am still a bit "chicken" that a gift to my grandaughter will be a shoddy piece of work. 

A stitch/speed regulator is not available for my Pfaff Triptonic so I was hung up on not being unable to produce a uniform stitch size. Mary Ann assures me that is not critical, that a smooth sweeping line is more important. She reasoned that stitches tend to nestle down and are not quite so exposed on the surface after a few washings. With renewed confidence I am going to practice a bit more and then quilt this Moda Pink Sample, that I zipped up in very little time one quilting afternoon. It is very small so I am willing to sacrifice my efforts on assembling it if it turns out disastrous. 

I love the material I picked for the border and backing.
Oh! I would hate to waste it!
See what I mean.  I still have strong tendencies toward being an FMQ wimp! 

We also did some fabric shopping. I bought these Moda Reunion fabric lines fat quarters to pair up into blocks with a companion block reversing the fabrics.  I showed my husband the three pennant prints and the circle print and he comment how is was odd that there were three triangle prints and that the circle one seemed odd man out.  He laughed at my solution when instead of putting back the circles. I picked up two more prints to solve the problem.

I bought some real icky-cute colored crooked polka dots prints a few months back that I think will just go awesomely with these bright abstract fat quarters.

These were too pretty and bright to pass up.

I have no plans whatsoever for these.  I just liked 'em.  I have a weakness for polka dots and I believe ya can never go wrong with a stripey binding.

Completed projects:
  1. Baby hat and sweater in white, pink, lilac, mint... so close I counted it
  2. Helping daughter and son-in-law with nursery
Ongoing projects:
  1. Pink squares baby quilt
  2. Little witch girl quilt to be.. sneak peak here hidden in June 20th post 
  3. Duck, Duck, Goose - completed binding- change mind, will quilt by self
  4. Doll quilt - attach binding
    Knit/crochet projects I want to start:
    • Peach/lilac/pink baby blanket
    • More baby socks
    • Baby crocheted dress
    No progress (but re-listed here so I do not forget and leave buried in closet):
    • Presents with Bows quilt kit- really want to start
    • The Ghastlies- strip quilt- want to start
    • Fire and Ice Quilt- sitting in closet awaiting decision on backing
    • Grinch Quilt - ripening on the design wall
    • Pumpkin/Iris/Blossom square wall hanging- needs backing and binding
    • Hexagon Mask Quilt - layout begun but overwhelming- actively disliking this one!
    This week's stats:
         Completed  projects - 2 (I count generously)
         New projects - 0, I just bought more fabric instead
         Currently in progress - 4

    WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced